Sing Me Forgotten Book Review
Updated: Sep 7, 2022
Whoa, new review, who dis? It's been some time since I've smashed my words on this here blog. Kori's done a phenomenal job of covering our witchy butts while I attended to life stuff (which we detail in our newsletters if you're at all interested in our behind-the-scenes extras and lives). But *cracks knuckles* I'm back for some book ranting.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Category: Emotional Read
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RATING: 2/5 Stars
Plot: 1.5/5 stars
Characters: 2/5 stars
World: 3/5 stars
Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.
But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.
Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.
I am a shadow. A shimmering of black satin. A wraith in the dark.
I'm obsessed with Phantom of the Opera and all its aesthetics, but I've been burned by retellings before. So I went into yet another Phantom book with mass amounts of skepticism yet a timid hope it would prove me wrong.
Reader, it did not.
Even looking at this book as "inspired by" rather than "retold" didn't help. I tried. I wanted so badly to like it. YA often surprises me with its complexity and darkness, so I hoped the lack of adult content and characters wouldn't be a setback to the original grim, adult inspiration.
The world-building being the strongest suit and main principle the plot is built on, I'll start with that.
The opera house has a gothic, creeping atmosphere that bolstered my hopes, and the French-inspired society plays with an intriguing concept: using memory elixir as a source of economy. Gifted people known as fendoirs can extract golden elixir containing memories from someone who is singing. This is a clever, if extravagant, way to make song an integral part of the novel without it seeming silly. I always wonder how musicals might translate into prose, and this is a unique direction to go in.
Fendoirs are considered a necessary evil to society but are persecuted out of fear. More hated than fendoirs, however, are graviors: suped-up fendiors who are born disfigured but can obtain various powers by carving special symbols into their skin. Once upon a time, three infamous gravior women banded together and rained terror upon the country before they were executed. Thanks to this insurrection, any gravior child is to be killed immediately.
With a premise like that, I was prepared for a down-and-dirty plot. Give me blood in the streets, give me a Les Misérables rebellion, give me a dark heroine who will show the world exactly who they've attempted to cage.
Yeah, not so much.
PLOT & CHARACTER
What even is the plot?
Isda's father figure Cyril took her in as a child but hides her from the world Quasimodo-style. He claims it's to protect her, but he so clearly abuses her power for his own gain. He asks Isda to alter opera-goers' memories to make his mediocre opera house the most famous and brainwashes her into believing he's on the fendoirs' side . . . by keeping them in their place? Cyril in no way masks his hatred for Isda's kind, but she's somehow convinced he has her best interest at heart.
"If those fendoirs are siphoning elixir away for themselves as I suspect they are, they could stage an uprising. [. . .] I'm willing to do what's necessary, no matter how difficult, to rid our city of danger."
Isda, darling, he's talking about enslaving your people and slaughtering any who resist. Your helpless, lower-class peers who already have next to no rights and are mistreated daily.
Cyril would make a fine head of Council. Fearless and brilliant, careful and well-spoken, it's a marvel it's taken so long for the Council of Channe to name him First Advisor.
Isda is a strange mix between uncaring and naïve. She easily complies with Cyril's wishes to psychologically torment children then apply that torture to a man whose job Cyril wants, and sees no problem with any of it.
"You'll go into his memories and put things there like we've been practicing with the children back in my office. [. . .] The goal, dear Isda, is to make the man go mad."
[. . .] Cyril's methods may be extravagant at times, but it is only because he is so determined.
I just . . . I can't root for her. Even with the insta-love interest Emeric (whose sweet, easygoing sense of humor is the only reason I rated characters at 2 instead of 1) telling Isda that what she's doing is wrong, she stubbornly refuses to assess her or Cyril's actions. It doesn't get better, either. She repeatedly tortures people at Cyril's behest, has zero regard for others' free will, roots through and drains Emeric's memories while lying to him about it, and only has the decency to feel guilty when she's caught.
I am all for a morally gray character, but Isda is just plain gullible and selfish—a horrible combination that makes her an easy, unempathetic pawn. If this is meant to be a villain story, I'd at least like a badass one—not a spoiled brat whose only concern is wearing pretty dresses and being in the limelight.
"Of course I'm going," I snap. "They may be celebrating your performance, but who taught you? I deserve to go to that party as much as any of those dolts you share the stage with."
Emeric, my dude, why are you still here? She gives one robotic "sorry" for leeching memories of your dead family, the only thing you have left of them, and now you're in love with her again?
The ending ties virtually none of the plot points up, makes no use of the larger world, and has little emotional impact except that you're sorry Emeric is weirdly attached to someone so horrible.
RIP Emeric's common sense.
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